5-star SEC recruits who didn't live up to the hype
Going back nearly a decade in the SEC, here’s eight five-star recruits who never panned out as major college football players:
8. John Brantley, QB, Ocala, Fla. (Florida, 2007) — Faced with the challenge of following in Tim Tebow’s footsteps once the two-time national champion left in 2009, Brantley posted subpar numbers during his junior and senior seasons at a program in transition. Future five-star quarterback signee Jeff Driskel (2011) didn’t fare much better which eventually led to this season’s transfer to Louisiana Tech, but the Oviedo, Fla. native did lead the Gators to an 11-2 finish during the 2012 campaign.
7. Mitch Mustain, QB, Springdale, Ark. (Arkansas, 2006) — After starting — and winning — the first eight games of his college career on a loaded offense, Mustain never found ‘it’ again, bumping heads with coach Houston Nutt which led to his transfer to USC. With the Trojans, Mustain lost the battle for the starting job with future NFL quarterbacks Matt Sanchez and Matt Barkley. Before his pro day at USC, Mustain was arrested for selling prescription drugs to an undercover officer.
6. Darius Winston, CB, West Helena, Ark. (Arkansas, 2009) — Arguably the SEC’s biggest bust at his position over the last decade, Winston managed just 52 tackles and minimal snaps during his four-year career for the Razorbacks, struggling to find his way in the Arkansas secondary. Coming out of high school, he was the nation’s fourth-best cornerback and considered the top player overall in Arkansas.
5. B.J. Scott, ATH, Mobile, Ala. (Alabama, 2008) — Recruited as a cornerback, Scott played in nine games during his true freshman season as a wide receiver and made two catches. He redshirted in 2009 before moving back to his comfort zone in the secondary. Scott never cracked the rotation there and transferred to South Alabama.
4. Bryce Brown, RB, Wichita, Kan. (Tennessee, 2009) — The consensus No.1 tailback in the country had offers from nearly every program in the SEC before signing with Tennessee following Lane Kiffin’s hire after originally committing to Miami. He battled through an injury-riddled freshman season and became buried on the depth chart during spring practice after Kiffin’s departure to USC. Seeking more playing time, Brown sat out the 2010 season after transferring to Kansas State and eventually quit the Wildcats football team in 2011 after appearing in just two games.
3. Phillip Sims, QB, Chesapeake, Va. (Alabama, 2010) — Sims lost out to A.J. McCarron under center at Alabama, then never secured the starting job at Virginia in 2012 following a redshirt transfer season. Last fall during his final season of eligibility at Division II Winston-Salem State (N.C.), Sims played in 11 games and threw for 1,560 yards and 14 touchdowns.
2. Eddie Williams, ATH, Panama City Beach, Fla. (Alabama, 2012) — One of four players dismissed by coach Nick Saban in January 2013 after being arrested and charged in connection to a beating and robbery of an Alabama student, Williams’ football career never recovered. Later that year, Williams admitted to having an affair with one of his tutors during his senior year of high school in Bay County, Fla.
1. Thomas Johnson, WR, Dallas, Texas (Texas A&M, 2012) — This heralded pass-catcher strangely disappeared as a true freshman after recording three receptions during the Aggies’ 29-24 win over then-top ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, an event so frightening his mother pleaded to local news stations in hopes of locating her son. He was reported missing and did not show up at practice the following Monday. Police found him back home in Dallas five days after Texas A&M’s win and Johnson withdrew from the university a few weeks later. No one is quite sure what went wrong with Johnson and most everyone associated is mum on the subject. His mother did tell a local publication in May 2014 that Johnson would play football again, but not in College Station.